21-plate temptations: 10 of the best new cars

Considering a brand-new 21-plate car? Here are 10 great options

The new 21-registration (eg NU21 REG) officially made its debut on 1 March, but with dealerships closed due to the lockdown, the usual new car stampede failed to materialise.

Number plates change twice a year (the other key date is 1 September) and usually March and September generate huge sales for car companies as motorists race to drive new motors with the latest registration.

With all dealerships re-opening across the UK by the end of April, buyers are expected to flock back to the forecourts to secure their 21-plate cars.

New research from Auto Trader indicates that Brits have been stashing the cash as a result of lockdown restrictions, with 41% saving at least £1,000 since March 2020, and more than one in 10 (14.7%) revealing they’ve managed to save £3,000-plus.

When asked how they were going to spend their newfound savings, two-fifths (41%) of those surveyed confessed they’d like to splash their cash on a new car.

We thought we'd whet your appetite with a look at some of the best new models costing up to £30,000 and all set to become 21-reg big-sellers...

1. Dacia Sandero - from £7,995

Dacia Sandero Stepway

Let's start with the all-new fourth-generation Dacia Sandero which is still the UK's most affordable new car. 

The latest version sports fresh new looks, more equipment and it drives well too. What's more, it offers supermini space for much less than the cheapest city car on the market, plus surprisingly low depreciation. 

We'd choose the most popular variant, the Sandero Stepway (pictured), which has a more rugged appearance, a raised ride height and clever roof rails which revolve and double up as roof bars. 

2. Hyundai Kona - from £21,265


Refreshed for 2021, the award-winning Hyundai Kona is a great all-round package and one of the most distinctive cars on the road. You can choose from three powertrains – a regular petrol engine, a self-charging hybrid or a pure electric (pictured) with a range of up to 300 miles. 

Well equipped, fun to drive, spacious and safe, there's also peace of mind because it comes with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty as well.

3. Ford Puma - from £22,045


Just a year after its launch, Ford's sporty Puma compact SUV is already a fixture in the UK top 10 best-selling cars list. 

Refreshingly different looks, entertaining to drive, economical, well-equipped and cleverly packaged, it features a 'Megabox' lower load compartment in the boat which not only provides an extra 80 litres of storage space, but it also features a waterproof lining and drain plug, making it easy to wash out and the ideal space for storing wet wellies and muddy sports gear. 

New for 2021 is the cracking new Puma ST (pictured), which still sneaks in below our £30,000 budget.

4. Skoda Octavia - from £21,235


The fourth generation of Skoda's best-selling car is available as a hatchback or estate and it's another winning blend of space, practicality, comfort and value for money, but now with cutting-edge tech and a sharp new look. 

There's a choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid (badged Octavia iV) with an electric range of more than 40 miles. 

The award-winning Octavia is still one of the best all-round family hatchbacks on the market, continuing to offer serious bang for your buck.

5. Vauxhall Corsa - from £16,815


Another 2020 newcomer, the handsome fifth generation of Vauxhall's supermini has swept straight to the top of the UK bestsellers, unseating long-time number 1, the Ford Fiesta. 

This Corsa is the best yet. Stylish, spacious, economical and engaging to drive, it now even has an advantage over its arch-rival (the Fiesta). Not only does it come with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, but there's also an affordable pure electric version (badged Corsa-e). 

The EV version has a range of 209 miles and it can be charged to 80% (adding 168 miles) in just 30 minutes via a 100kW rapid charger or overnight at home using a wallbox. 

6. Toyota Yaris - from £19,915


One of the revelations of 2020, Toyota's best-selling supermini has been transformed for its fourth generation, with cool looks, clever packaging, new technology and an efficient petrol-electric hybrid system. 

Featuring a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, it can return up to 68.9mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 92g/km. It also benefits from Toyota's reputation for reliability, plus a five-year/100,000-mile warranty. 

New for 2021 is the acclaimed hot hatch version, the pocket rocket that is the GR Yaris (pictured), which dips in just below £30,000.  

7. Renault Captur - from £19,300


The second-generation Renault Captur is one of the classiest compact crossovers. Stylish, comfortable and safe, there's enough space for the family and it's blessed with Renault’s five-year/100,000-mile warranty. 

Available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, we'd recommend the new plug-in hybrid (badged E-tech) version which offers up to 31 miles of pure electric range and a potential 188.3 mpg, plus CO2 emissions of just 35g/km.

8. Peugeot 3008 - from £27,160


Facelifted for 2021, Peugeot's bold mid-sized SUV looks better than ever, has some new equipment and there's now the option of two hybrids. Engine choices include 1.2 and 1.6-litre petrols and a 1.5-litre diesel. 

If you can push your budget closer to £40,000, then the plug-in hybrid variants (badged Hybrid and Hybrid4) are within range. Even if you can't, the 3008 is still a great package offering impressive driving dynamics, comfort, practicality, top build quality and serious kerb appeal.

9. Honda Jazz - from £19,045


Another 2020 newcomer, the cute fourth generation of Honda's popular supermini is the best ever. With space for two adults in the back, it's easy to drive, comfortable, practical and kinder to the planet because its 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid engine is capable of up to 62.8mpg with low CO2 emissions. 

We'd recommend going for the more rugged looking Jazz Crosstar (pictured) with its slightly raised ride height. Add Honda's great reputation for reliability and the new Jazz is a superb small car proposition.

10. Seat Leon - from £20,405


The all-new Leon is a great all-rounder blending style, affordability, practicality, economy and surprisingly good driving dynamics. 

Available as a hatchback or estate, you can choose between efficient petrol and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid for the first time. The PHEV is capable of travelling up to 38 miles on pure electric power, while CO2 emissions are as low as 28g/km and fuel economy is as high as 235mpg (on paper). 

Staying within budget, we'd recommend the regular 1.5 TSI (turbo petrol) developing 128bhp, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. Claimed fuel economy is up to 50.4mpg, though we managed an indicated 58.7mpg on one long journey consisting of mostly A-roads and motorways, thanks largely to the clever 2-cylinder deactivation mode when cruising.

I'm an experienced journalist, digital editor and copywriter, now specialising in motoring. I’m editor of Automotive Blog and have worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online for household names including the BBC, GMTV, ITV and MSN. I’ve produced digital content in the financial sector for Lloyds Bank, Nationwide and the Money Advice Service. I'm married with two children and live near Bath in Somerset.

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